Doc calls for more support for addicts

Community members were full house at the Beacon Valley sub-forum monthly meeting.

Mitchell’s Plain needs more support groups for drug counselling and rehabilitation, said Dr Ellapen Rapiti at the monthly meeting of the Beacon Valley sub-forum, held at the Beacon Valley community centre.

The sub-forum is affiliated to the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum.

Dr Rapiti has been practising in Beacon Valley and Eastridge for 36 years and in his book, Four Steps to Healing, published in 2011, he speaks about his experience with his son who became a drug addict. He has also established support groups in Mitchell’s Plain for family members affected by substance abuse.

“Drug addiction can affect the best and the worst of us. I get upset at politicians who blame the parents for their children becoming drug addicts. A parent would not wish this upon their children so why blame the parents? The drug addict in the family is not a bad person, he is not a ‘gemors’, he is a human being. I would not have understood this if I did not study it,” said Dr Rapiti.

There are legal routes you can take when your child is addicted to drugs, said Dr Rapiti. When the person becomes aggressive or a threat to themselves, they can get a court order from a court and get help.

“Once the person becomes addicted, they do not have the ability to say no to drugs, they need help,” he said.

He said to give up drugs you need a strong willpower, not every solution works for the child.

“The last person you want
to listen to is somebody who doesn’t know about drugs.
You need to go to somebody who has gone through the pain of drug addiction, preferably. You need to have love and compassion in your heart when working with the person addicted,” said Dr Rapiti.

He also said he was a strong advocate for the decriminalisation of addiction. Addicts should be sent to rehab centres or halfway houses and not to jail as jails open them up to becoming inducted to gangs or being raped.

He added that the community should make a conscious decision to come together in spite of all they go through.

Dr Rapiti said children needed to be taught about drug addiction in school. “If pupils are educated on the dangers of drugs at an early stage in their lives, using drugs can be prevented. We need to educate them before they get hold of it,” said Dr Rapiti.

Principal of Oval North Technical High School in Beacon Valley, Na-aim Kassiem, said he would avail space to anyone who offered counselling to the pupils at his school. “God needs to be an instrument through us to help the next person. The police protect us, we need to protect them too. Resources at the school are made available to you. Let this drug problem not discourage us.”

He also said Ward 116 councillor Michael Pietersen should be more involved in the community. “We have nothing in this community, you must deliver to our people. My heart is buried here, in Beacon Valley,” said Mr Kassiem.

Ward 79 councillor, Solomon Philander said: “Drug abuse is a big problem in our community. The message went out tonight and we’re all affected.”

For more information about starting a support group, contact Dr Rapiti on robertrapiti@gmail.com or 021 397 6029 or 082 581 1846.